your heart opens.

2009 is over. I know. It’s crazy. So, even though I have failed at my 100 books in a year challenge, again. Dun dun duuun. In fact,  as of right now, I have done worse than 2008, reaching only 87 books. A lot of that was the book slump that occupied most of October and November, which put me about 12 books behind.

Still, eighty-seven is enough for us to do a highs and lows, right?
Let’s do the lows first, shall we? Get them out of the way.

1. The Broken Shore, by Peter Temple. I bought this with a Christmas gift card from last year, but I didn’t read it until July. Well, I tried, more than once, but it took a four-hour plane ride with nothing else to read to finish it. I wasn’t impressed. It was violent and confusing and had very little satisfaction in the conclusion. Read more here.

2. Bel Canto, by Patchett. I really wanted to like it, but I didn’t. Perhaps because I know that my brother has seen horrible things over his last year of deployment in Afghanistan, and I felt like the hostage situation that seemed more like a garden party just felt insulting. Read more here.

3. Sharp Objects, by Gillian Flynn. It was incredibly well-written, it was just also horrible. Every single character was broken, pulverized, missing a soul. Read more here.

4. Saving Fish From Drowning, by Amy Tan. This wasn’t a terrible book, it just seemed overpopulated and full of cliches. Read more here.

5. The Edible Woman, by Margaret Atwood. This was the most disappointing of her’s I’ve read. She can be a little over-the-top angry feminist, and this book was a little too much to handle. Read more here.

Then the top…

1. Olive Kitteridge, by Elizabeth Strout. This book is excellent, showing an honest and touching portrait of humanity. Read more here.

2. Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins. Yes. Just yes. Read more here.

3. Catching Fire, by Suzanne Collins. I know this seems a little random, allowing a book and its sequel to both be on the top five, but…it just isn’t often that a book’s sequel is complex and satisfying like this one. Read more here.

2. The King of Attolia, by Megan Whalen Turner. In a different vein, this is the third of four books (well, the third of three and the fourth is due out soon) and while I recommend all three, Turner’s work gets better and better, and this was the best. Turner is good at telling a story with a twist, telling us a story that pulls our eyes in one direction while working out details in a completely different one. Read more here.

5. Glass of Time, by Michael Cox. This one was the best gothic novel of the year. Satisfying, not as tragic as its first, The Meaning of Night. Read more here.

And the bonus – the best re-reads of the year.

1. Up A Road Slowly, by Irene Hunt.

2. The Blue Sword, by Robin McKinley.

3. The Blind Assassin, by Margaret Atwood.

4. Dealing with Dragons, by Patricia C. Wrede.

5. Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte.

Now…what to read first in 2010? I’m not making any promises about 100 books this year, since it promises to  be a busy year, and I’m knitting a lot these days. You know, the usual things.


8 thoughts on “your heart opens.

    1. Let me guess, this is about my feelings on Peter Temple again, isn’t it? I don’t really write my “puerile opinions” to please anyone except myself. Really, you have no one to blame but yourself for the 25-30 minutes you wasted perusing my blog.

  1. Pay no heed to that first commenter. Who does he think he is anyhow?

    I don’t even know what “puerile” means; I’ll have to go look that one up in the dictionary. Does that make me sub-literate?

    I’ve been reading for fun and pleasure for the first time in many years (homeschooling 4 kids does that to a person….) I’ve been enjoying mysteries in “the cat who…” series by Lillian Jackson Braun and also just started “A is for Alibi” by Susan Grafton. Once I’ve had my fill of mysteries, I’ll come back to your post and read some of your recommendations.

    I even read the latest book club selection on Depression which wasn’t half bad (but I do think Welch didn’t go far enough in the multiple reasons/causes of depression.)

    1. Was it “Blame It On the Brain”? Or the one just titled “Depression”? I think I have the former, but I don’t remember reading it. I had an interesting talk with my parents the other day about depression vs. grief.

      As for the first commenter, I suspect they are connected in some way to Peter Temple, since they’re from Australia and I had another troll on the first post about disliking the book. They came back to check their work later on the 4th, but I doubt they’ll be back unless I hit their Google alerts with a new post with his name in it. :-) Besides, I already know a lot of people love me, and while my opinions are imperfect, they do belong to me.

      1. No, I wasn’t referring to Blame it on the Brain–that was the book club selection about 5 years ago which is why you have it and if you were at the meeting, you might remember that it was a hostile situation. Same author. Depression, a Stubborn Darkness, acknowledges many different causes for depression, although I feel like he put it in there as either an afterthought or to pacify those of us who feel that sin and not being right with God are *not* the only reasons for depression.

        What I liked about the book was that he brought out many Psalms.

        At club, we talked about the distinction and difference between depression and grief too.

      2. (Yes, I remember that bookclub. I was a little surprised that y’all would revisit this particular author.)

        I think that depression is so much more complicated than simple sin and not being right with God. I think that in some situations, yes, that’s a large part of it, but I think that it’s dangerous and isolating to accuse someone of that because they’re depressed. Look at all the famous theologians (John Wesley, John Bunyan, even Jonathan Edwards) that have struggled with sometimes severe and dehabilitating depression.

        I think it’s easier sometimes to point a finger than it is to support someone who is depressed. I know that for me, I have had friends whose depression would have drained me fully if I let them. It’s hard, because when you’re not depressed, it’s easy to say “Focus on what the Lord has done for you, reach out to other people, get up and do something. Get rid of what’s separating you from God.” But when you’re immobolized by depression, everything looks different. You don’t have have anything specific separating you from God, it just feels like getting up and trying is impossible to accomplish. You know?

        Sorry. This turned into a book and I didn’t mean it to be, and I probably am preaching to the choir. :-)

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